I started my day at 8:00 a.m. with medical staff meeting where we learned Indiana University School of Medicine now has a four year program at the South Bend campus. We drank fully loaded Starbucks as the room filled with about thirty doctors with as many years of education as years worked in their careers. We listened to the professor try to drum up support as I skipped past the donuts since I'd just walked 30 minutes at 7:00 a.m. The difference between me and the docs in the room was class loads like Histology, Physiology, and Pathology, and several thousand hours of clinical training.
I've never pretended to be all that a doctor is. I've just always wanted to be the most awesome nurse I could be. There is always more to learn.
8:40 a.m. I looked through my morning lab results, made patient calls, and did prescription refills. I listed all the labs and immunizations due for everyone on the schedule for the day to make the day go smoother. Then my nurse and I looked through the schedule together and talked about what each person might need for the day, before we gathered three of us staff and held hands to pray for our day.
By 12:00 noon we'd done about 4-5 school physicals, had 3 patients no-show, and followed up hypertension, hyperlipidemia and GERD. I'd done lots of education from sexually transmitted disease prevention, abstinence, sports safety, concussion/re-concussion risks, helmet use, balanced diet, joint health, birth control, to vision and scoliosis screenings.
Then we all gathered around the staff room lunch table about twelve of us to enjoy a carry-in meal of chicken noodles, salad, fresh berries and angel food cake, blueberry buckle, and coffee. The comaraderie around the table was warm and good, like a great work family. I know it sounds too good, but it is true.
Good healthcare starts with people who care about people.
1:30 p.m. started the afternoon with my physician partner doing school physicals while I saw acute work-ins. It was an unusually slow afternoon--a reprieve from the usual for me. Though my physician partner sees patients every 15 minutes, I have 20 minutes slots and tend to move slower--some by default, but mostly by intention. I saw several people with upset stomachs, colds, someone with foot pain, and then drained an infected abscess. The lag in the schedule allowed me to finish my electronic charting, all my lab and x-ray follow ups, make a few patient phone calls and be ready to leave by 5:15p.m.---also unusually early end of day for me.
I hopped in my 100 degree, humid van, cranked up the air and motored toward Middlebury, past the office I'd done some clinical hours and three years work right after graduation from my master's program. The sky was clear, the fields through the country were mostly green as I passed a few Amishmen on bikes along the way. I was reminded of God's faithfulness. I learned a lot at the Middlebury office while I worked there under the tutelage of a very sharp clinical physician educator and mentor. I whipped my now cooled van into the Essenhaus Restaurant parking lot, excited for the supper meeting planned for a long time nurse colleague's early retirement due to Multiple Sclerosis.
5:37p.m. I was late, but weaved my way through tourists visiting northern Indiana's Amish land who'd come there to sample the food and browse the shops. I saw our gathering from afar and my heart overwhelmed with recognition of so many faces I'd not seen in 8-10 years--some I'd not seen in 20 years, and some faces of those who've passed on were missing.
Women. All who'd shaped me. Impacted me. Taught me. Pushed me. Encouraged me. Stood by me. Cried with me. Prayed with me and for me. Walked the halls of Goshen Hospital with me. Held the hands of the broken and dying with me. Educated me. Worked long laborious shifts of all hours of the day and night with me. Hands who'd pushed IV meds, changed dressings, and done chest compressions of resuscitation along side me. All who'd showed me how to care--deeply and well.
A room full of about 40 nurses--my sisters. I love each of them dearly. My eyes burned and my soul and spirit remembered in waves, the days and moments we'd had at Goshen Hospital where I'd worked 15 years before finishing my masters. Hugs for everyone, laughter and greetings passed around for everyone before we passed a meal family style together, like communion. The room filled quickly with the noise of chatter while we caught up.
White hair, red, blond, and brown. Some names I couldn't say right away. Some faces who hadn't changed a lick. We went around the room and shared our years of work, and what impact this particular nurse and mentor had had on all of us. We discussed the changes in healthcare, work ethics we learned, and drank our coffee and ate our raspberry cream pie.
All total, the number of years of experience in the room was over 721 years!
I have lacked in clinical training hours and the intense patho, histology and other indepth medical courses required of physicians--and looking around that room, I'd do it all the same again. There are moments when I wish I'd had a more rigorous anatomy course, but that wasn't one of them. I can always collaborate with my awesome physician partner and there is always a resource book to look up the position of the hallicus longus or the pharmacokinetics of a drug.
But there is no book, no page you can turn to in order to obtain what filled that room.
Quite simply, nurses rock, and I'm quite satisfied to be one who reflects all that was instilled in me by these great and humble women.